Staffordshire police officers spending less time on the beat
Police time on the beat in south Staffordshire dropped by 12 per cent in one year.
Officers spent 8,882 fewer hours out of the station in the village communities from 2016 to last year, a shock report has revealed. It showed police were out of the station for 63,164 hours last year, compared to 72,046 hours the year before.
Officer visibility also dropped in the area - which includes Penkridge, Cheslyn Hay, Essington, Pattingham, Penn and Kinver. Figures were not available for Cannock.
But the report, presented at a Staffordshire Police and Crime Commissioner meeting last week, showed out-of-station officer hours also dropped in Stafford, down almost 4,000 hours to 79,749 hours.
Essington Parish Councillor Peter Lever said: “The crime figures are rising in our area – we need police presence in our communities more than ever.
“I can’t remember when I last saw a police officer on the beat in Essington.”
Staffordshire Police defended the figures and the force is increasing the number of police officers from 1,661 to 1,705 next year. PCSO numbers will remain the same, at 237.
Inspector Richard Meaden, Commander for South Staffordshire Local Policing Team, said: “The difference in the number of hours equates to around four full time police officers based on a 40 hour working week.
“South Staffordshire Local Policing Team has seen a number of officers off work on long term sickness during this period.
“However, between July 2017 and February this year, our resources have been bolstered with the arrival of eight new officers.”
Inspector Meaden said the force was stepping up work in the community and had created a crime panel with representatives from the council, Environment Agency and Home Office.
He added: “Since August last year we have executed 50 search warrants, identified two organised crime groups and have seized more £3.5 million worth of controlled drugs off the streets of South Staffordshire.
“We’ve also helped a victim of modern day slavery who was involved in a cannabis farm.
Chief Inspector Gemma Ward, Commander for Stafford Borough Local Policing Team, said out-of-station time was impacted by tasks such as reviewing evidence, producing prosecution files and dealing with people in custody.
She said: “Police Officers and PCSOs are expected to be visible and accessible to their communities and at the same time are required to deal with a wide range of different, sometimes complex problems effectively.”
She added: “Changes in resource levels including sickness, and injuries which restrict staff to certain tasks or locations also affect visibility figures, but these officers are still doing extremely valuable work.”